When my grandmother died in August 2018, I wrote a post about her for my old blog. In that post, I mentioned that I think she experienced anxiety. The way she wrote about interactions with others makes me think it may have been social anxiety to some extent.
I’ll never know first-hand what it was like to experience anxiety or depression in generations past. I can speculate that it was a lonely, confusing road.
It wasn’t until I was in my late 20s that I even learned there was condition known as social anxiety disorder. As for “depression,” it was a term I was vaguely aware of, but I assumed it was the kind of thing that happened to other people, and that I was far too resilient for such things.
I was probably depressed at the time.
I was definitely anxious.
I definitely suffered from low self-esteem and rock-bottom self-worth.
But I am so lucky.
I am so lucky to be a young(ish) adult(ish) in 2020, to be part of the movement away from bottling up feelings and keeping a stiff upper-lip. To be part of breaking down mental health stigma. To be going through my own recovery amidst mental health advocacy, eating disorder awareness, and basically a collective cry to stop beating ourselves up about EVERYTHING.
It’s only a start; voices are joining the chorus but for many, still, mental health is an obscure topic, and personal challenges are secret and shameful.
But even as I recognize how lucky I am, I hurt as I wonder… What about my grandmother? What about other family members who have also suffered from mental health challenges that went undiagnosed, unvalidated, and most importantly, untreated?
I’m generally a mental health optimist, but when I think about how many people have lost so much from untreated, and sometimes self-medicated, disorders… it’s hard.
At the end of my blog post about my grandmother, I wrote:
This was written before I felt the need to have an explicit “purpose” for my writing or for sharing my journey.
But when I came across it in my drafts a little while ago, it stuck with me. Just a little niggle in the back of my mind.
This week and last, I’ve been struggling a lot with what I’ve started calling “purpose anxiety.” I’ve been wrestling with the question of “why” I’m putting myself out there and whether it “matters.”
Today, finally, it hit me that I’ve had a “why” this whole time, without consciously realizing it.
That statement was my why, before I really knew it.
- I’m writing for my grandmother.
- I’m writing for my daughter and my son.
- I’m writing for me.
- And I’m writing for you.
Even though I may never know that “you” have read this. All I can hope is that some parts of my words impact some of the many people who need to feel less alone.
I guess I don’t need a specific path plotted out. I don’t need to worry so much about how to make the perfect impact all the time. I can’t save the world with every post — and probably not with all my posts combined, either.
And that’s okay, in the end. This is a group effort, right?
I just need to show up and let my voice join the chorus of mental health and self-compassion advocates out there today who are saying:
- It’s okay to not be okay.
- Check on your friends.
- Give yourself some grace.
- You are not bad.
- You deserve to heal.
- Recovery is possible.
- You are not alone.